Building or rebuilding their houses was one of the main concerns of the English nobility and gentry, some might say their greatest achievement. This is the first book to look at the building of country houses as a whole.
Creating Paradise shows why owners embarked on building programmes, often following the Grand Tour or excursions around other houses in England; where they looked for architectural inspiration and assistance; and how the building was actually done. It deals not only with great houses, including Holkham and Castle Howard, but also the diversity of smaller ones such as Felbrigg and Dyrham, and shows the cost not only of building but of decorating and furnishing houses and of making their gardens. Creating Paradise is an important and original contribution to its subject and a highly readable account of the attitude of the English ruling class to its most important.
Lady Frederick Cavendish, at Clivenden " "When one lives in Paradise, how hard it must be to ascend in heart and mind to heaven. Filling a gap in the literature of the country house Building and rebuilding their houses was one of the main concerns of the English nobility and gentry, some might say their finest achievement. Their wealth grew over the two centuries after It was expressed above all in their building schemes which set an instantly recognisable seal on their status and power in the countryside.
There are many books about the English country house. Beautifully illustrated surveys of houses, their architecture and architects, accounts of owners and servants alike, erudite guides to National Trust properties, and the hundred-year-long series of Country Life articles, present a picture of the country house and life in it across the centuries. The existing literature, however, tends to concentrate upon the grandest, the accessible, and nationally known architects and builders.
The diversity of the English country house, with perhaps as many as houses dominating the large estates around them, is often ignored. Many were rebuilt across these two-hundred years, and the rest were remodelled, often several times, to meet the changing dictates of architectural and social fashion and the practical needs of their owners.
We bring a different approach. Our book is not about architects and architecture but about the landowning class as builders. We attempt to provide the economic and social context of a remarkable creative phenomenon. We have gone back to building accounts, contemporaneous letters and journals, and the comments of visitors and critics, to introduce hitherto neglected practical and financial dimensions to country house studies.
We survey the entire range of country houses, from the grandest such as Castle Howard and Holkham, through those of middling size, to ones built in their thousands by small country squires whose estates barely sustained their standing at county level. We show why owners embarked on the protracted and laborious task of building, often following the Grand Tour or even more often excursions to other houses in Britain. They looked, they compared, they envied, and they built.
In considering the obstacles faced by builders we also illustrate why not all could realise their ambitions.
At the outset builders relied upon themselves, their friends and skilled craftsmen for architectural inspiration and know-how. After the s they were helped by an explosion of literature in the field, but the architectural profession emerged only gradually.
We examine how building projects, among the largest of their day, were organised and how arrangements changed over two centuries. Invariably large work forces of skilled craftsmen and labourers were engaged, sometimes for many years. Paradise was created slowly and at considerable cost, some houses absorbing prodigious sums although somewhat surprisingly seldom ruining their owners. The country house was the most prized possession of the English ruling class. We have written about its most creative period before a remarkable transformation in the twentieth century from symbol of privilege to icon of National Heritage.
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Brand new Book. Creating Paradise is an important and original contribution to its subject and a highly readable account of the attitude of the English ruling class to its most important possession. There is also a guide for property pronouncing the names of British houses. Heritage Trail. This independent historical website was created to encourage the exploration of British heritage.
Showcasing a diverse range of historical sites and monuments, The Heritage Trail provides an excellent starting point for researching projects, holidays or tours. Historic House Association. HHA represents 1, privately-owned historic houses, castles and gardens throughout the UK. Their portfolio of HHA houses open to the public can be searched.
Lost Heritage. List of lost English country houses sorted alphabetically with former location, reason for loss and sometimes images and further information. National Trust. The Trust preserves and makse public, historic houses, gardens, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, etc.
The site can be searched for properties and the latest news on preservation. Stately Homes.
The guide will help you plan your visit to one of Britain's stately homes, gardens, castles and other historic properties and houses. Yale University Library. What is a Country House? What is a Manor House?
The Country Seat The aim of this blog is to focus on sharing news and comments on UK country houses and stately homes and provide a broader perspective on their place in architecture. Account of travels throughout Britain, including descriptions of several major country houses, by W. Anonymous MS.
Divided into 3 parts: 1 copy reduction of Horace Walpole's Aedes Walpolianae concerning Houghton Hall, in Norfolk; 2 a description, primarily a listing of paintings and artists, of Penshurst-Place in Kent; 3 and miscellaneous notes on country houses, including Knowsley, Chatsworth, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Hemesley, Stowe, Blenhiem, Burleigh, Belvoir Castle, Thoresby, Castle Howard, and many others; includes an index. K47 A manuscript miscellany, in a single hand, chiefly consisting of notes on visits to various country houses and towns in Great Britain.
Each entry is dated, with the dates ranging from to They include two accounts of visits to Oxford, one from , the other from , and an account of a visit to Cambridge in , all including details of some of the treasures in the university and college libraries there. In Stratford-upon-Avon, the writer describes Shakespeare's birthplace as "built of wood and of very mean appearance, part is a publick house, and part a butchers shop, almost joining the White Lyon Inn", and mentions that the effigy of Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church had been painted entirely white in The description of Coventry includes several buildings destroyed during the Second World War, such as the old Coventry Cathedral.
The accounts of country houses tend to be more concerned with the furniture, paintings and books contained in them than with the architecture.